Tips in Planning a Staycation with the Family

Staycation is now a well-rounded alternative for family outings, a great idea for a bonding activity.  Considering the unfavorable condition of traffic nowadays, many prefer staycation over out-of-town travels to save time and energy. It’s easier to plan, based on my experience.

I have always initiated staycations with my family during holidays or special occasions. Transportation is always a hurdle because we don’t own a car, so traveling out of town rarely is an option for my family. As a substitute, staycation becomes a frequent replacement for our outdoor escapades. Contrary to other’s perception that staycation is boring and simply staying indoors, there are lots of activities to be done here.

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Just like any travel, the outcome of your planned staycation depends on how well you prepare for it. It may be a hit or miss especially for first-timers, but it can also be as memorable if things turn out well.

Doing this almost every year with family and friends, I summarized the list of things you should consider in planning a staycation.

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Sunset at Manila Bay
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Grand Piano at Sofitel
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Sunset Bar at Sofitel

Plan Ahead

Set the date and the location and determine your budget, headcount, and transportation. Are there medical issues that need to addressed in the family? Will you be renting a vehicle, commute or bring your own car? Will you be cooking your own food or eat at a restaurant? These are the basic things. These details will help you prepare further.

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Check for Possible Discounts

Do you have a senior citizen companion? Book the hotel under his/ name and get the 20% discount. is there any member of the family affiliated with any hotel organization for exclusive perks and privileges?  Do check this information ahead before booking. It was too late when we inquired of the senior citizen discount because the booking was done under my sister’s name, not my grandmother.

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My Grandmother

Airbnb vs Hotels

Airbnb and hotels both have their own plus and negatives. As I’ve mentioned in my article before, Airbnb has the more diverse range of options which is easier to filter out: rates, location, number of guests, facilities, etc. The difference of Airbnb with hotels is that most often, you are renting a home-type setting where chores such as cooking and laundry are allowed. The thing I like about Airbnb is that the inclusions, rules, and policies are stated clearly. However, the rates are based on per person, not per room. Each extra guest has a corresponding fee.

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Luxury Room at Sofitel

Hotels, on the other hand, are designed in a more formal set-up usually tailored not only for leisure but for business needs. There are more chances that extra rate for extra guests are not religiously followed because you are paying for the room and not per guest. The thing I like about hotels is that it has more facilities to explore such as spa, swimming pools, gym, and buffet dining. You can also request for housekeeping, unlike in Airbnb where you have to clean-up your own mess. Complimentary transportations and porter service are sometimes provided, unlike in Airbnb.

Both options are good but choose according to your needs and preferences.

Compare Rates of Direct Booking vs Online Hotel Platform Booking

If you are choosing to stay in a hotel, there are two ways of paying: via direct reservation with the hotel, or by using external sites such as Agoda, Booking.com, Traveloka, etc. There is not much difference between the two but based on experience, big hotels have cheaper rates if you book it directly compared to using other sites. Then again, these sites sometimes do offer seasonal discounts so double check. Less-known hotels like those in provincial areas are cheaper if you book it directly because there are meager chances of haggling with the owner.

The key is that online hotel platforms have extra charges such as VAT, property service charge, and city tax so rates tend to be higher.

Again, it is a case-to-case basis, so do your comparisons and check for the cheaper rates.

Bring Your Own Food and Water

This is always a must when going out for a staycation. Most often, unless it is an exclusive resort, hotels do allow bringing of outside food. Just to do it discreetly. In Airbnb, you can even cook your own food. Bring snacks such as chips, crackers, candies, nuts, bread with spread, cup noodles, and coffee in sachets. This will save you the hassle of going out just to buy necessities. Airbnb rarely provides complimentary drinking water for its guests so bring your own.

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Compliments at Sofitel Luxury Room

Study the Vicinity

Knowing the vicinity means checking out nearby malls, restaurants, convenience stores and tourist destinations. This will help you plan the itinerary and places to go should you need to eat or unwind.

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The Grand Staircase at Sofitel

Plan Your Activities

Check out the facilities so know what activities you can do during your stay. I always make sure that there is a pool so we can swim. You can arrange a nice dinner at a restaurant in the evening, swim in the morning, use the gym in the afternoon, play board games, watch movies, etc. Maximize your stay by using the hotel’s facilities.

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Lagoon Shaped Pool at Sofitel

Eat Breakfast Outside

Normally, complimentary breakfasts are good for two persons per room only. When we stayed at Sofitel, we let our parents enjoy the buffet breakfast at Spiral and we just ordered from Jollibee delivery. The rate for breakfast per person is Php 1,900 and we were not up for spending that much. If you’re staying in an Airbnb room, no breakfasts are provided.

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Buffet Breakfast at Spiral

Always Bring Extra Cash

Most often, hotels and Airbnb accommodations require you to have a safety deposit for any incurred damages, food consumption, services. Also, anticipate the extra expenses that are not part of the original budget so always prepare ahead.

Check the Inclusions of Your Stay

Always be keen on your usage and consumption — check if it is free of charge or not. Example: Parking, use of the pool, gym and spa, use of the landline phone, breakfasts, etc. You can always inquire at the reception. From my own experience, we can always bring home toiletries from hotels.

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Le Spa Lounge at Sofitel

There was one incidence when I used the phone at Heritage Hotel and thought that it is free of charge as long as it is within Metro Manila. To my surprise, the phone bill alone amounted to 1k because I was inquiring about a utility bill. Another example is that Sofitel charges Php 250 for the use of microwave alone. So be careful on those. Always ask if you are not sure.

Spend Quality Time with Your Loved Ones

The key is making the most out of your stay by spending time with your family. Set aside time to drop your phones and social media in order to communicate with your parents, brothers, and sisters. Create memories. Enjoy and have fun!

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Happy Family
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My Siblings Jaika and Vince

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1

12:00 PM: Lunch at Home
12:30 PM: Travel
2:00 Check-in at the hotel
3:00 Snacks
4:00 to 6 PM: Nap, rest
6:30 to 8 PM: Dinner at a restaurant
8:30 PM: Go back to the hotel
8:30 PM onwards: Spa, massage, or socialsl
11 PM: Lights out

Day 2

6 AM: wake up
7 AM: Prepare for Breakfast
8 to 9 AM: Breakfast
9:30 to 10:30: Swimming
10:30 to 11:30 Prepare to check-out
12 noon: Check out

Things to bring:
Extra clothes
Swimwear
Medicines
Food: coffee, noodles, chips, crackers, sandwich etc.
Valid ID
Extra cash
Toiletries
Extra plastic for wet clothes
Camera

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